Why we get cavities and how to treat them

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Cavities are the result of tooth decay and a common dental problem. Catching decay at its earliest stages can save you some uncomfortable toothaches (as well as dental bills). And by limiting your intake of sugary foods, plus regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, you should be able to avoid them altogether.

What is a cavity?

Also known as dental caries, cavities are what we call the holes in teeth caused by tooth decay. They start with plaque bacteria that are naturally found on your teeth. And when you eat sugary foods, these bacteria break some of the sugars down into acids. Fluoride toothpaste can help protect your teeth against these acids. But eating too many sugary foods can produce enough acid to slowly eat away at the tough enamel surrounding your teeth. Eventually causing the tooth surface to collapse, creating a cavity.

When a cavity breaks through the enamel to the large dentine layer of your teeth, it can start to cause a toothache. If the cavity ever reaches the soft pulp centre that holds the nerve endings, it can be incredibly painful. This is why spotting the signs of tooth decay early is very important.

How to spot a cavity

Tooth enamel has no nerves, which makes it easy for decay to start without you ever realising. Treating decay early can help stop further tooth damage before a cavity forms and save you any discomfort. If you notice any of these signs, you should speak to your dentist immediately.

  • Toothaches are normally the first sign that you may have a cavity. A mild pain might mean the cavity is fairly new and could be easily treated. While a severe toothache could point to a greater level of tooth decay.
  • Tooth sensitivity is another common sign that something isn’t right. If your teeth are normally fine with hot, cold or sweet foods, an increase in sensitivity is something you should speak to your dentist about.
  • Heavy staining on your teeth could also be a sign of cavities. If you notice brown, black, or even white staining on your teeth, speak to your dentist to make sure it isn’t linked to tooth decay.
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth


(Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tooth-decay/ ) 

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Fillings and other treatments

A cavity can’t be reversed, so you may need to have a filling. This is where your dentist will repair the tooth decay damage by filling the cavity with a resistant material. This can stop the toothache, but the tooth is never as strong again: it's much better to avoid cavities in the first place rather than treat them if they appear. If the cavity has already got too big to be filled, you may need a crown or dental cap fitted to protect the tooth. Or in some extreme cases, the tooth may need to be removed altogether. Making it all the more important to have regular check-ups to spot any signs of decay.

How to stop cavities before they start

Although cavities are a common problem, you can help avoid them in the first place by following two simple rules: a good diet and a good oral care routine.

  1. Healthy eating is the key to healthy teeth. By cutting back on foods and drinks that are high in sugars or processed carbohydrates, you can help stop tooth decay before it even starts. Meaning you have less of a battle to fight against decay when you brush. Also remember that your teeth can repair some of the damage of the day overnight, so try to avoid eating anything sugary after your nightly brush. 
  2. Brushing for at least two minutes twice a day, every day, with a fluoride toothpaste, is the key to giving your teeth the care they need. With a good clean between each tooth at least once a day to help flush out any lingering plaque. Be sure all your teeth get a thorough clean, including the ones hiding away at the back. And using a great-tasting product like Aquafresh Triple Protection Fresh & Minty toothpaste will leave you feeling clean and fresh after each brush.
  3. Regular dentist check-ups are very important to help spot tooth decay, and treat it before it gets worse and leads to cavities. Professional teeth cleaning can also be useful if you struggle with brushing or cleaning between your teeth. Giving your mouth the best chance to stay strong and healthy.

Healthy teeth need a healthy diet, but your teeth may still be at risk of tooth decay. Particularly for small children, as milk teeth are more vulnerable than adult teeth. Being mindful of decay can help you prevent it, or at least catch it early. Helping your teeth avoid any permanent damage. 

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